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White House Briefing Coverage Continues. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 31, 2017 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And again, I think that that, compared to the narrative that you hear from a lot of folks in this room all the time, is a little bit opposite.

[14:00:00]

Here you have a president who is telling Mike Flynn and others to go up there, make sure -- in fact, we -- we talked about the other day with members of the administration that the president (inaudible) volunteered. This doesn't look (ph) an administration that is not doing everything it can to get to the bottom of this in the appropriate way.

And I think that that is an important distinction that has been lost on a lot of you, that every action that we have taken, we've got up here and we've talked about Russia and the lack of a connection. We've talked about the fact that every single person who has been briefed has come away saying none exist, Republican, Democratic, Obama appointee, et cetera. And yet, at the end of the day, the narrative still comes at us (ph) and now we're going to the point where we've actually encouraged people to go talk to the House and Senate Intelligence Committee and the appropriate investigators so that they can continue to get to the bottom of this to get it (inaudible).

I think that's quite the opposite of what you would normally think that somebody who was not trying to get to the bottom would do.

Eamon?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean. One on taxes and one on trade, if I could.

Back on February 9th, the president said that he would be presenting a phenomenal tax plan in the next two or three weeks. Tomorrow is April 1st. We haven't seen that tax plan. Can you tell us when the president's going to present his plan?

SPICER: I think, as you noticed yesterday, Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohen and others on the team talked to the president about the process and I think that we are working on engaging with key stakeholders. And when -- when we feel it's appropriate that the president is given the appropriate amount of feedback, we'll start to put out the appropriate, you know, outline and -- and process that we -- we envisioned. But at this time, that discussion is ongoing.

We recognize -- as you know, I mean, we anticipated fully being engulfed in healthcare right now and I think that we're accelerating that. The president's got his team working overtime. He's been giving them feedback as far as what he wants to see and how he wants to see it. But this is a big task. It's taken 30 years and we're going to get to it. QUESTION: Is the White House going to write its own proposal here or is this going to be like the healthcare debate, where we thought we were going to see a proposal from the White House, but in the end, the president sort of signed on to Paul Ryan's plan (ph)?

SPICER: I -- I would -- yeah, first I would dispute that we signed onto someone's plan. I mean, we worked with the House, as you know from the president's statements. We were very on board. I would suggest to you to say (ph) that we're signed onto a plan. It was a -- it was a work that both sides worked together on. We worked with the Senate as well. And I think this plan -- I would assume that hopefully we would come up with a plan that we all agree on.

The president will put out principles I'm sure, as we've already done in terms of what his goals are and how he wants to drive this as the process moves forward. But you know, I'm sure that we're going to have a robust debate about aspects of that plan, certain provisions and certain other tax pieces. But we're going to work with the House and Senate on it.

QUESTION: And on trade, the president, during the campaign -- he's now gearing up for this meeting with the Chinese president at Mar-a- Lago.

SPICER: Yes.

QUESTION: During the campaign, he suggested that on day one, he would declare China a currency manipulator, but he hasn't done that. Why hasn't this president followed through on that campaign promise?

SPICER: I think we need to have that meeting with President Xi. I'm sure that there will be a lot of discussions about our economic relationship. And so I don't -- we are days away from that and -- and let's -- let's see what those -- I just don't want to prejudge. We're -- we're days away from it and I know there's a lot of issues that need to come up and I don't want to get in front of them.

Olivier?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Two -- if I could (inaudible) one on China and one on the Middle East. Does the administration plan to order a review into China's status as nonmarket?

SPICER: At this time, the two trade executive orders that focus on countervailing duties and -- and -- are -- are where we're going to look. I think we've got a lot -- obviously, that's an issue that we probably hope to have the U.S. trade representative confirmed. But that's a combined decision, I think, that -- that -- in consultation with the Department of Commerce and Department of Treasury. But let's -- let's see how we go first. QUESTION: And then can you clear up where the president stands on

whether Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate president of Syria? SPICER: Well, I think with respect to Assad, I mean, the -- there is a political reality that -- that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. We lost a lot of opportunity the last -- the last administration with respect to Assad and I think that our (ph) statement that both U.N. Ambassador Haley gave yesterday and Secretary of State Tillerson reflects the reality that is now at the -- the Syrian people.

We had an opportunity and we need to focus on now defeating ISIS, but the United States has profound priorities in Syria and Iraq and we've made it clear that counterterrorism, particularly the defeat of ISIS, is foremost among those priorities, and that's why our forces in the global coalition are partnering with local forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But -- but I mean, I think there is a bit of political reality with respect to where we are now versus where we were with the last administration in terms of there being a -- there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time.

QUESTION: OK. It sounds like you're saying whether or not he's legitimate, if you were to declare him illegitimate, there's nothing the United States could do about that, so there's no point...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I think -- I think there is a bit of reality that -- that has to be addressed with respect to the opportunity and the options that we have now, that we don't have -- or didn't -- didn't -- they had in the last administration. And there is a reality that just doesn't exist in the same way.

John Christopher (ph)?

QUESTION: Thank you.

Really, what is really the endgame for Mr. Assad? When you -- when the president speaks to his allies, his NATO partners, I mean, obviously Assad is not going to retire somewhere in the south of France. He's -- something's got to give. What is the thought there? What's the disposition, the conversation in terms of Assad who is very close to this, who would like to have (inaudible) in the Mediterranean?

SPICER: I think we -- we believe there's a need to deescalate violence and to have a political process through which Syrians will decide their own political future consistent with the principles that have been enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254. But there's a bit of -- as I mentioned just a second ago, there's a bit of reality on the ground in terms of what the options are.

Yes?

QUESTION: During the presidential campaign, the president said he was with the state on North Carolina's law banning transgender people from using certain restrooms. The Democratic governor yesterday signed a deal to replace that law with an (inaudible) measure that civil rights groups still say is discriminatory. Does the president support this law?

SPICER: I have not asked the president. I would say consistent with what he said during the campaign cycle, he believes in states' rights.

So, Ben? QUESTION: (inaudible) issue, but what are the president's personal view on bathroom (inaudible) for transgender people and the way states should approach...

SPICER: Yeah, I think that the president's made it clear. This issue came up when Caitlyn Jenner in particular came to Trump Tower and he said he didn't really care. But I think it is a state and local issue, not one that he believes needs federal attention.

Matt (ph)?

QUESTION: Thanks, Sean.

Given that it's Financial Disclosure Day...

SPICER: Yeah?

QUESTION: ... why will the White House not be...

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Why will the White House not be releasing the president's 2016 tax returns, giving that conceivably those can't be under audit yet, while the audit is obviously been the reason for why you haven't released his past returns?

SPICER: I mean, look -- asked and I mean, we -- we -- the president's been very clear about his tax returns and his position on that. The Office of Government Ethics requires every federal employee at a certain level to file these financial disclosure forms that anyone in America can go onto -- it'll be the first time I believe in -- I don't want to get ahead of the background briefing, give away the good stuff.

But I believe that this is the first time that they're on the White House website. We are making them more accessible and more available than in history.

QUESTION: Then why not make this...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I think that's an apples and oranges because these are required by law. I mean, these are -- these lists, just for everyone who's not familiar with them, the financial disclosure forms that we filed, I think it's called a 278, reveal every asset you own, every debt that you have, your spouse's income, your spouse's employment, holdings that you have, credit card debt, other.

I mean, it is a fairly comprehensive undertaking of every asset that a person owns, every debt that they have and I think that that is a very clear understanding of the assets that people have, the value of those assets, both in terms of whether they're worth something or the liabilities that they're incurring. That is a very, very transparent way of being able to understand someone's -- and so, to equate the two is rather...

QUESTION: Sure, I was just using that as a jumping off point...

SPICER: Yeah.

QUESTION: ... that it's...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Well, I'll jump back.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: If the audit is not the reason...

SPICER: I didn't say...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Right, but you also remember that taxes aren't due until the 15 of April.

QUESTION: So can we expect them (inaudible)?

SPICER: I don't know. I'm not -- I don't know. We haven't really gotten into -- I'm worried about getting my own done.

(LAUGHTER)

But I'll...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

But I think that -- again, I think that respectfully, you look at what we're doing going frankly -- and again, this will be discussed after this is done. But I think there is an element of going above and beyond what has been done in the past to make sure that people have access to this.

There's a lot of people -- I think one of the really interesting things that people are going to see today and I think it's something that should be celebrated is that the president has brought a lot of people into this administration, into this White House in particular, who have been very blessed and very successful by (ph) this country and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets and I think it speaks volumes to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the president's vision and move the agenda forward, that they are willing to list all of their assets, undergo this public scrutiny, but also set aside a lot.

SPICER: Because you'll see that people are often told they have to sell an asset or get rid of something to come serve in the government, and there's a lot of people that have done a lot to come into this administration to give back, that've been inspired by the president's victory and the president's agenda to move the country forward.

Jim?

QUESTION: General Flynn's attorney said that his client has -- has a story to tell. Is the White House concerned that General Flynn has damaging information about the president, his -- his aides, his associates about what occurred during the campaign with respect to Russia?

SPICER: Nope.

QUESTION: OK.

And the other thing I wanted to ask you to follow up on that, is you were just saying a few moments ago that -- that some of this information that would be helpful to the committee -- you were talking about Evelyn Farkas and so forth.

SPICER: Yeah.

QUESTION: That -- that seems to be something that pertains to during the transition. But the president's tweets time and again talked about "Tapping my phones in October just prior to the election. Just found out Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory."

I'm just going to -- I want to get something clear about the timeframe.

Does the White House have any information -- is it providing any information to the Intelligence Committees that would draw these members to the conclusion that there was some kind of surveillance going on before the election as the president originally alleged?

SPICER: So, again, I don't -- I don't want to specifically get in.

But I think if we're splitting hairs about what day of the calendar it was, that's a pretty interesting development. I think that we have now come to a place where I think that we can... QUESTION: The president's allegations...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I -- I understand that. But if the allegation is, well, it was actually on the 1st of December or the 10th of December versus the 31st of October, I think that we're starting to split some serious hairs here.

The idea that -- and again, I -- I -- I just -- it's interesting that now we're arguing over the date, not the substance.

And the substance is, why were people using government resources, violating civil liberties, potentially, looking into peoples' backgrounds to surveill them, to understand what they were doing and who they were, to unmask them, provide their names in the -- and into -- into sources, spread classified information, make it available to others to spread it to places that they weren't supposed to...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: ... use it -- but hold on. But -- let me just -- I'm -- I -- I think that it is interesting, because, again, I get your question. But if what we're really arguing is did it happen on a Monday or a Tuesday, or did it happen on the 31st versus the 7th or the 8th, I think we've lost focus here.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: There is...

QUESTION: ... current office...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Just let me finish and then I'll...

QUESTION: ... surveillance and...

SPICER: I -- I understand this.

QUESTION: Now that the dates are changing...

SPICER: No, no, no. They're not -- I didn't say they were changing, just to be clear.

I'm just saying that it is -- it is -- it is fascinating to me that we are now arguing over the date not the substance.

I understand your point. And if we get down to that, we come out, and you really want to get into what date, because -- but I -- I think it is really getting lost in this debate, that American citizens, who were not government employees at the time, who were not targets of stuff, potentially were -- were -- were surveilled, had their information unmasked, made it available, was politically spread, and -- all of this -- and it should be very concerning to people that an administration or people in an administration, people serving in government, who are provided classified information, who are given clearance in the trust of the United States government, misused, mishandled and potentially did some very, very bad things with classified information.

That astonishes me that that is not the subject of this, that all of this is happening in our country, and yet the -- the subject -- and again, we talk about what door someone came in, what date it happened.

There is a -- there is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected classified information, leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties. And the potential that that should -- that that happened should concern every single American.

QUESTION: To follow up on that, I think we are concerned about the substance just as much as the process.

SPICER: Well, I -- I mean...

QUESTION: But -- but the details matter. And -- but I just want to make sure...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... that I'm hearing you clearly. Because it seems like you're going farther than what we've heard in previous briefings.

It sounds like you are, just as the president is, alleging that the Obama administration conducted unlawful surveillance on the Trump campaign and Trump transition team.

SPICER: What I am saying very clearly is that as...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Do you have evidence of that?

SPICER: No, no. What -- what -- I don't.

I know that what has been provided to -- as I said in the statement, I believe that -- that we -- that was has been provided and will be provided to members of the -- both committees, I think should further their investigation.

I think that the revelations of Evelyn Farkas, who played a senior role in the Obama administration, going on the record to talk about how they politically used classified information, is troubling.

I believe that the reports that are coming out day by day that NBC News just reported, that John just detailed, what Fox has reported -- day by day, more and more we are seeing that the substance of what we've been talking about continues to move exactly in the direction the president spoke about in terms of surveillance that occurred. And that should be very troubling.

That, frankly, should be something that -- that everyone looks at and says, what's going on here? Why did it happen? Who did it? And how are we going to get to the bottom of it?

SPICER: That's -- that's what concerns me.

Steve Holland (ph)?

QUESTION: Could I go back to China for a second? SPICER: Sure.

QUESTION: The president yesterday said that the meeting next week with China will be a difficult one and he referred to massive trade deficits. Now, what sort of tone is he hoping to set for this meeting?

SPICER: Well, I think he's been very clear with...

QUESTION: Why is it going to be so difficult?

SPICER: Why is what?

QUESTION: Why is it going to be so difficult (inaudible)?

SPICER: Well, there's big issues. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody in terms of -- we've got both national security issues in terms of our political posture towards North Korea, the threat of a missile, that extends further and further, the tests that they're using, their nuclear capability. Those should all be very concerning. And then on the trade front, we've got serious concerns with what they're doing, our trade practices with them, some of the things that were mentioned in the past.

But I mean, there's a lot of areas that we need to be concerned about with trade and I think, you know, that is going to -- it's -- this isn't a sit around and play paddy cake kind of conversation. They're big issues. The president's been making it very clear since -- for decades, frankly, of the challenges that we face. And -- and I think he wants to have a very good and respectful and healthy relationship, but he also wants to make sure that he tackles the challenges and the problems that are facing American workers, American manufacturers and get to them (ph).

I'm going to go to my first seat and then Glenn because he's patient. First Skype seat, Maurice Goodman WWDB-AM in Philly. Shout out to Hallie's (ph) old stations.

QUESTION: In Philadelphia, it's Randall Jefferson. My question is, President Trump is signing an executive order that intends to deny funding to cities that refuse to share immigration stats information (ph). Attorney General Sessions recently suggested that cities could not only lose future funds, but that the federal government may require them to pay back grants.

Will -- will there be a -- when and will -- when will this take place? And will that money be reallocated to other departments like Department of Education or HBCUs?

SPICER: Well, I'm not -- I would say that the president finds it unacceptable that some localities and counties, potentially some states have prioritized a political agenda over the safety of their people by flouting our nation's immigrations laws, becoming so-called sanctuary cities. The failure to follow federal law can have tragic consequences for all of our citizens in all of our country. It's particularly concerning in a place like Chicago and other cities

like yours in Philadelphia where there's been increased violence. Immigrants, both legal and illegal, are not safe when criminals who have committed egregious acts are free to roam the streets and the attorney general has issued a public notice reminding all states and local jurisdictions of their responsibilities to comply with federal laws.

With respect to the budget piece, you know, I think we've got an ongoing budget process and we'll have to see how many states comply and where, if any, potential savings are there and then how we reallocate them. But I think the president's budget, both his F.Y. '17 contingency budget for funding beyond this continuing resolution on April 28th and then his F.Y. '18 budget that he's already submitted, were going to reflect some key priorities, both in terms of homeland security and national defense.

So we'll see where we would reallocate any of that money, but I think the priority is clear, is to get cities into -- into compliance and to make sure that we understand there's not just a financial impact of this, but also a very clear security aspect of this.

Glenn?

QUESTION: (inaudible) Sean. First, just a follow-up on something you said before. You said that Hillary Clinton had personal contact with Vladimir Putin and the suggestion was that that wasn't necessarily appropriate. Can you just elaborate what you were...

SPICER: No, I'm not saying that's -- the contact of it in itself is not appropriate -- it not...

QUESTION: (inaudible) as a private citizen or as a...

SPICER: No, no, no. I think what I'm saying is that when you talk about connections to Russia, the only connection that anyone's made with President Trump is multiple years ago he hosted a pageant there and he's -- some of the -- you know, he owns condos around the world and some of them were sold to some Russians and I think he sold a house to one several years back. That's his connection. When you talk about the other side, you look at what the Obama administration's connections were. You have a secretary of State that was selling a fifth of our country's uranium, you have the Clinton Foundation concern with -- with some of the donations they got, you've got the former president, her husband, giving paid speeches, getting a personal call from Vladimir Putin. You've got a stated goal of their -- of that administration, of Secretary Clinton to have a reset to, quote, "strengthen Russia."

SPICER: So when you compare the two sides in terms of who's actually engaging with Russia, trying to strengthen them, trying to act with them, trying to interact with them, it is night and day between our actions and her actions.

And yet no one questioned what she was doing or how she was handling it. And ... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) her pattern (inaudible) more suspicious that President Trump...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I -- I think that if you compare the two, it's definitely -- when you talk about the stuff that went to their foundation, the concerns that existed around the sale of one-fifth of all the country's uranium, the paid speeches, the personal calls from Vladimir Putin, I think that when you want to look at a connection to Russia, there's a clear one there, and much less of one that ever existed on -- on this side.

Trey (ph)?

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sean, two questions...

SPICER: Hold on.

QUESTION: ... another -- one other.

SPICER: All right.

QUESTION: So, Sean, in terms of the Nunes chronology, just to clarify, when we're asking questions about the process like gates and people, we're not attempting to ascertain the geography of the executive complex. We want to know who knew what when.

SPICER: I understand that.

QUESTION: So, my question is -- so I will ask that directly. Forget about the technical questions.

Mr. Nunes was on the campus. You say, "We don't know who let him in the gate."

SPICER: Right.

QUESTION: So, apparently, it is -- it is -- and you described that I believe this is a normal process, right?

Tell me if it is normal the way that I am describing it.

Mr. Nunes, the head of an investigatory committee, is allowed to roam around the executive complex -- we don't know who let him in -- to speak to two deputy-level members of the National Security Council.

He is then allowed to see information.

He then obtains an appointment, from -- from my understanding of the chronology -- with the president of the United States to disgorge that information. He then goes public with that information.

Then, seven or so days later, you say it would be appropriate for everybody to come down here and look at it.

Is that a normal process?

SPICER: Well, I -- A, I would take issue with a -- a number of the aspects of your chronology.

Number one, which you're forgetting, is that initially he is the one that publicly said, well before any of this came to light in terms of the president's March 5th tweet, that he was just looking into this whole matter. He, according to John Roberts' own reporting, just said that neither of those individuals as described in your paper's reporting are accurate.

So, I would dispute several of the pieces that -- and then as far as him roaming around the White House...

QUESTION: Well, you don't tell us who let him in (inaudible).

SPICER: No, I understand this.

But -- but you -- again, you jump a ton of conclusions about -- and -- and I -- I love watching some of these shows where they jump to conclusions for all...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Hold on.

QUESTION: ... several times prejudge the investigation as clearing the White House. You've said it twice at the podium today.

SPICER: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: What I'm saying is -- because I'm focused on the substance of this, I'm actually...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: I -- right.

And so, where has any of the reporting been in -- in your paper about Evelyn Farkas and her revelation that this is what they sought to do? Where has been the reporting in your paper that NBC News just recently covered that other officials -- you seem to be really focused on who showed up where, and what door they went in, and how it happened.

To answer your question, yes, it's appropriate for a member of Congress to contact someone who has contacted him according to some of these reports.

I don't know the answer to that. But if you're asking me is it appropriate for a member of Congress to come over here? As Chairman Nunes has said himself, he wasn't hiding or roaming. He was asked to come over here by an individual. He came over, which happens daily. He was asked to go somewhere. He went there.

He is cleared in a -- and nothing that is inappropriate -- other -- and exactly the opposite. What he did, what he saw, and who he met with was 100 percent proper.

QUESTION: Chief of staff have -- did the chief of staff, who is, in my understanding, an exceptionally attentive gatekeeper to who comes in and out of the Oval Office...

SPICER: To the...

QUESTION: Did the chief of staff know that he was on the campus? Did he approve...

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: So, remember, you're -- you're -- OK, but -- but you're playing cute there. You're doing two things.

One is, you're talking about the Oval Office and the other one is the campus, right?

So, no, the chief of staff does not know every single person who's on the 18 acres at any given time. They are people who -- who are appropriately either cleared or waived through the system, or are escorted on in some way, shape or form.

No, we don't track every single person who's on the 18 acres.

Do we know generally speaking who's in the Oval Office? Not all the time, because people can go in. But if there was a meeting, in that case we all sat back here. He made the announcement.

And again, you're leaving out a key part. He actually briefed the press before he told anyone. We all found out -- you, me, everyone else -- that he was coming down here after he held a press conference with your colleagues to say he was coming down here based on stuff that he had found that didn't have to do with Russia, that a whistleblower source had given him.

Now, the other reporting that I'm hearing today is actually that the sources that you describe in your paper are not accurate. And while I'm not going to comment on either, I think there's an assumption that everything and the chronology they went over is accurate, which I don't believe, from further reporting, that it is.

And I also believe that some of the comments that have come out publicly in terms of some of the Obama administration are conveniently left out of that discussion. I think that that is interesting how no one seems to really cover the fact that a senior Obama administration, with high-level clearances, talked about the spreading of classified information for political purposes and no one seems to care.

QUESTION: But just to be clear, Mr. Priebus, Mr. Kushner, Mr. Bannon did not have knowledge of his -- of his being on the campus, having this interaction with (inaudible)? SPICER: I don't -- I don't know. Again, you're -- you asked two questions and you melded them together. No one knew that he was coming to speak to the president. He announced that on television during a press conference.

QUESTION: Sean?

SPICER: Tamara.

QUESTION: Yeah, my understanding is that Dr. Farkas left the administration in 2015. So why is what she said in 2017 relevant to something that allegedly happened in 2016?

SPICER: The question I would (inaudible) to you is exactly. Why is it? What is she -- she says in her things, I'm urging my colleagues, I'm urging it to get the Hill, but it's odd that the presumption seems to be, why is it interesting? Have you asked her?

QUESTION: No, you're the...

SPICER: No, you haven't.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: So she -- no, no. But she's been on television talking about what she's done and you seem to have made no...

QUESTION: I don't believe everything I see on TV.

(LAUGHTER)

SPICER: Well, neither do I, but -- but I also -- I would assume that as a reporter that actually is interested in the story, a senior Obama administration official that handled Russia...

QUESTION: Former.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: Well, all Obama administration officials generally...

QUESTION: She wasn't there in 2016. SPICER: Thank you, I appreciate the timeline. But I'm well aware of when it was. But my point is, is you see me (ph) rushing to her defense. At some point, she came on -- she went on television and talked about actions that she and her colleagues took to spread classified information and instead of -- Jonathan, instead of defending her, it might be worth asking her what she's talked about, who she spread it to, why she did it, was it appropriate, who cleared her to do it?

Maybe those are questions that (inaudible) instead of asking me to defend why a former Obama administration official is revealing stuff that should be extremely concerning.

(CROSSTALK)

SPICER: So I'm going to go back to Tamara's (ph).

QUESTION: Yeah, one other question which is, are you more concerned about that or Russian interference in the presidential election?

SPICER: Well, I -- I think that they're -- if I'm, as an American citizen, I'm very concerned about the fact that people potentially were sharing information about other Americans for political purposes and using classified information to do so and leaking it. That should be concerning to everybody. I mean...

QUESTION: (inaudible) the Russian interference?

SPICER: No, that's not what I said. Please stop trying to -- it's not -- no...

QUESTION: (inaudible) which is worse?

SPICER: No, and I -- and I guess I don't -- I mean, the answer is, I think if someone's interfering with our election, that's not good. I don't think that someone revealing and leaking classified information is good either. I'm not sure that you should have to choose. I think that you can have outrage and concern for both and I don't think we should have to pick as an American whether or not which freedom we want to have undermined. I think we should expect both of them.

And so the idea that we should have to choose whether or not we want someone to interfere with our election or protect our civil liberties isn't one that we should want or that we should have questioned.

Alexis?

QUESTION: Can I just have three basic follow-ups to actual questions (ph)?

You used two phrases here today, one is politically sensitive information and the other is classified information, when you're talking about what the president believes was released. Because you said yesterday that you yourself had not seen the information and that's my understanding (inaudible) today, are those terms interchangeable or are they different in terms of what you know from the podium was released?

SPICER: So, there's actually a classification level. There is -- there's certain sensitive information on individuals, while not (ph) classified, is -- is considered stuff that the government protects. Then there's secret, there's top secret, and without getting into it, there's a lot higher. There are differences in classification levels.

So while you may not reveal a piece of classified information -- they're called PII information is sensitive information according to the government standards. So they are different. Each of them has a different classification level.

QUESTION: But is your understanding -- you've been told that the material that the president is sharing with the committee includes classified information as well as politically sensitive information. That's your understanding?

SPICER: Yes.

QUESTION: All right.

Second question, you said Congressman Schiff is coming today?

SPICER: That's my -- I know that he is -- I don't -- I -- my -- he has made contact and is trying to arrange a time.

QUESTION: And can you share with us who will be responsible for escorting him to the proper place, showing him the materials, walking him through it, letting him absorb it? Is he bringing staff? Can you just...

SPICER: I don't know the answer to that question. I know that they were arranging a time, et cetera. I think it's going to -- a lot of it will detail who -- who -- if he is requesting it. I don't know the nature of -- I know that the request was made and that's one that -- that -- there's follow-up with the -- with the staff -- at the staff level to determine all of those things.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

SPICER: Yeah.

QUESTION: The material that the president has wanted to share with the House and the Senate Committee, has it already been shared with the FBI or does the FBI already have the materials?

[14:30:00]

SPICER: I don't know the answer to that. Some of it -- I don't know. It's NSC --